Written by Norma Bouzek, photos by Hayley Bouzek and Kim MacGarvey
. In the summer of 2019, the farm was expecting 3 babies: one from, Isis, our llama, and two from our alpacas, Sari and Yuki. Also that summer, Hayley had planned a vacation.
Yuki gave birth to a healthy baby boy (Brew), then on June 5, Isis gave birth to Belle, a huarizo (the offspring from a llama (mom) and an alpaca (dad)).
The birth and survival of Belle
When she was born Belle had issues standing up and nursing, so we held Belle up to assist her. The 1st night my daughter slept outside in a tent beside baby Belle and Isis.
. The 2nd day we saw no improvement, so we took Belle into our house. Belle could either hold up her head or stand, but not both at the same time. We came to the conclusion that Belle had been born prematurely. Hayley’s vacation was approaching and she was worried that Belle would not make it. For the first few days we fed Belle with a syringe, and when she got a little stronger we started bottle feeding her. Belle gradually got stronger, but still was not standing on her own when my daughter left. I persevered as this young creature deserved a chance at survival.
The day after Hayley left, I awoke to the fact that Sari, the other alpaca, had given birth to a baby girl named Chardonnay, luckily she was healthy.
I kept bottle feeding Belle, and we marked the high points like when she could hold her head up to drink out of the bottle. The day Belle could stand up and hold her head up was a day to celebrate, as we knew we had rounded the corner and that she would survive. At this point Belle was moved outside to a dog pen on our back porch.
At 2 weeks old we took Belle back out to Isis and were blessed by the fact that Isis was able and willing to take her back and nurse Belle herself. Belle thrived and she still loved her human parents, as well as her real mom.
Goat Yoga at Gold Fox Acres
At one month old, Belle participated in a goat yoga class at the farm.
Training to go on a new adventure.
When Belle was about 8 months old, a Vernon senior’s residence asked if we could bring Belle in. To prepare Belle for this, we had to train her to get into the back seat of my car (Toyota Matrix), as the back of the truck was too high, and taking a horse trailer to downtown Vernon was not an option. I took the car out to the barnyard and we loaded Belle into the back seat, we got her settled and then took her for a drive down our road.
When we got back home, we unloaded Belle from the driver’s side rear door in front of an unfamiliar building. Then we reloaded Belle again, went for another short ride, and then took her back to the barnyard.
. May 17, 2019 our visit to Vernon and the seniors
When the day came for our visit to the seniors residence, 8 month old Belle loaded like a champ, we pulled up to the loading zone door and the coordinator was there to greet us.
. We took Belle in the elevator to the 3rd floor, and the residents and staff were over the moon to meet her. Belle was a little bit intimidated, but she did okay as long as my daughter was right beside her. But when Hayley handed me the lead rope and moved away to remove her sweater, Belle was not happy. We visited with some of the residents on three floors and they all loved our little surprise. Before getting back on the elevator to leave the 4th floor, my daughter needed to use the washroom, and luckily they were wheelchair accessible, as Belle had to accompany her.
We returned to the lobby, took Belle out to the loading area and loaded her back into my car, with my daughter to keep her calm. It was a wonderful experience to bring a smile to so many people’s faces and Belle was a CHAMP.
Back at home on the farm
Belle is still a very sweet and gentle soul, and she loves visitors who come to our petting zoo. She is always more than happy to greet people, and is very willing to give them a getting- to- know- you sniff.